09.04.21 The Clerk

A tribute: HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG KT. A Royal Liveryman of the Coachmakers’ Company 1921-2021

Pictured above: HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG KT, a Royal Liveryman of the Coachmakers’ Company, presents the Coachmakers’ award at the British Driving Society’s Annual Show at Smith’s Lawn in 2016

His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, KG KT was awarded the Coachmakers’ Company Carriage Driving Award in 1986. Shortly thereafter he was sworn into the Company as a Royal Liveryman, joined the Carriage Driving awards committee and became a regular supporter of the Company. Past Master David Shalit MBE recalls his early encounters with the Duke:

“I thought you would wish to be reminded of the contribution Prince Philip made to our Carriage Driving Award. His was the third made after I had been asked to form the Award Committee and it was Sir John Miller, the legendary Crown Equerry and a founder member of the Committee, who introduced me to Prince Philip’s Private Secretary and guided me through the more formal protocols of the time. The Award was presented at Smith’s Lawn where we had a private lunch for him and he drove up in his carriage with his competition team.

“With Sir John’s help I then wrote to the Secretary inviting Prince Philip to join the Coachmakers and somewhat to my surprise the invitation was accepted and Prince Philip was duly sworn in. Shortly afterwards I wrote inviting him to join the Committee and again to my surprise he accepted. We then had the next seven meetings of the Driving Award Committee at Buckingham Palace and for many years thereafter Prince Philip joined us at the presentation of the award at Smith’s Lawn, providing of course he was in the country. He always made a powerful contribution to our meetings and certainly on one, if not two occasions he recommended the recipient of the Award. His involvement with our Award enormously increased its significance and importance in the carriage driving world and I was always grateful for his support and the friendliness he invariably showed us.”

For many years thereafter the Duke continued to support the Coachmakers’ Carriage Driving Award at the annual British Driving Show held at Smith’s Lawn in Windsor Great Park. The last time he was able to present the trophy in person was during Past Master Michael Kimber’s year in 2016. The following report appeared in that year’s The Coachmaker.

British Driving Society Show 2016 at Smith’s Lawn, Windsor Great Park

The purpose of the Company was to maintain standards in the construction, design and maintenance of horse-drawn vehicles and their associated harnesses, and this continues today. Coachmaker awards for outstanding contributions to coach and coach harness making were first presented at the annual British Driving Society Show at Smith’s Lawn in Windsor Great Park in 1979. The award is managed by the Carriage Driving Committee, which was formed in 1982 under Past Master David Shalit.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh joined the Livery after winning the award in 1986, and since then has been an active member of the Driving Awards Committee. The show takes place at Smith’s Lawn on a Sunday in June when the Livery Cup and certificates are presented.

Coachmakers and their guests enjoyed a quintessentially English day out in June, at the British Driving Society’s Annual Show at Smith’s Lawn in Windsor Great Park. In the presence of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, then Master Michael Kimber presented the 2016 Carriage Driving Award to Margaret Brockie MBE.

Margaret has been Chairman of the Riding for the Disabled Carriage Driving Committee for the past five years, for which she was recently awarded her MBE. She is also a Driving Trials competitor and a judge.

After the award presentation, Michael Kimber and his wife Suzanne generously treated Coachmakers and their guests to drinks and nibbles. The remainder of the sunny day was spent watching the carriage driving displays, enjoying picnic lunches and taking in the spectacle of the Bentley Motors Royal Windsor Cup on the adjoining polo ground.

All in all, it was a splendid way for Coachmakers and their guests to meet in relaxed and informal surroundings.

However, whenever the Duke and his good friend, Court Assistant Mark Broadbent came together, the talk quickly turned to shared experiences as competitors at the highest level of international carriage driving competition. It was therefore no surprise that when the Duke learned of a Livery Committee arranged visit to Mark’s carriage driving centre in Devon, arrangements were made for him to join his fellow Liverymen at the Fenix Carriages HQ.

Coachmakers visit Fenix Carriages

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh enjoys a visit to Fenix Carriages, 2016

The final coach orientated visit of the year was the visit to the Fenix Carriages establishment in Devon, the home of Liveryman Mark Broadbent & his wife Joanne, winner of 2016’s Award to Industry.

The group of Coachmakers visited the workshops to see how the coaches and carriages were restored and how modern ones
are constructed.

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company, flew in to Fenix for a special personalised visit. With great enthusiasm for competitive carriage driving, Prince Philip – who drafted the rules when carriage driving first became an internationally recognised sport in the early 1970s – took a great interest in all the carriages and the skilled work that Mark and his team produce.

Luncheon was held in the coach house where the marvellous collection of coaches was housed. Many of these date back to the late 19th and early 20th century.

The following day the Coachmakers enjoyed a drive on one of the coaches driven by Mark’s team of four, followed by a traditional coaching luncheon.

His Royal Highness was a great friend and supporter of the Coachmakers’ Company and he will be much missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty The Queen and the other members of the Royal Family at this challenging time.